Government is pressing ahead with A&E closures despite Covid-19

Elliot Chappell

The government is continuing with plans to close existing A&E departments and intensive care units in the capital despite the decision to open a new field hospital in east London to deal with pressure caused by Covid-19.

Consultations on closing the acute services in both Epsom and St Heliers hospitals have continued despite the ongoing health crisis sweeping the country and close on April 1st.

Simultaneously, government ministers are planning to open a special Covid-19 hospital in the Excel Centre in east London to care for an additional 4,000 patients afflicted with the disease.

Commenting on the closures, GMB organiser Helen O’Connor said: “The removal of these services at existing major acute hospitals will only result in death.

“After years of unnecessary austerity, NHS cuts have brought the health service to its knees and we are all now suffering because of it.

“GMB is again calling on the government to put an immediate stop on all plans to close A&E, ICU and all other acute services at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals.”

The hospital to be established in the Excel Centre is intended to be a temporary facility, and will be called the NHS Nightingale Hospital. It will be run with help from military personnel.

The proposals for the hospital outline that it will essentially be a large intensive care unit where Covid-19 patients with the most complex symptoms will be treated.

There are currently 2,872 recorded cases of coronavirus in the capital, while the total for the UK generally has reached 8,077. London has more than twice as many cases as the next most affected area, the Midlands.

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